“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Two hundred thirty-seven years ago, Thomas Jefferson penned these words and captured much more than the American sentiment, he exclaimed the inherent declaration of the human soul. I believe these words were divinely inspired, and in spite of Jefferson’s shortcomings (the slaves, the exclusion of women, the vagueness of happiness, and again the slaves), I believe God touched his soul and brought out verbiage, yet to be fully realized, that framed the human obligation to the collective social aspirations.
As these words presently reverberate upon the lips of aspiring dissenters across the world, I wonder have we Americans become estranged from much of the meanings. Collective “self-evident truths” no longer seem to resonate with people, instead we tend to gravitate towards the idea that we all have our personal ‘truths’. That tendency proliferates into our worship, as if we all individually have different gods and creators. And how many of us are truly committed to the fact and principle that all human beings are created equal?
How do we understand “unalienable” ? Who gives and Who determines “unalienable rights” ? And should any of this influence our position or disposition on aliens, legal or illegal ?
I think we get “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as an individual anthem, however we are challenged and often ‘take the 5th’ when it comes to the collective, the other, the different, the diverse, and “the least of these”.
As we celebrate our great Nation’s founding, let us not forget that this Declaration of Independence among Nations was also a declaration of dependence upon a Universal God. This work ” to form a more perfect Union” continues and obligates each of us to contribute our best every day and in every era “that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth”. (Lincoln)
- Imam Plemon T. El-Amin